tv C-SPAN Weekend CSPAN December 19, 2010 2:00am-6:00am EST
it has strong bipartisan support. 75 democratic and republican senators can be included in our back up of this lame-duck session. the conversation is back on track. senator reed feels strongly about this issue. there are terrible problems in his home state. people have been poisoned by bad food and diet.
>> both of these issues >> right now, both of them, the fate is not assured. what, if anything, is left? >> what does it say? >> if you're not to -- you are not patient, do not run for the senate. >> thank you. >> the senate returns tomorrow to continue debate on the start treaty. they are expected to discuss and amend by the idaho senator. live coverage of the senate begins at noon eastern on c-
span2. >> next, vladimir putin coast is call-in program and in susan collins talks of the talks talk about policy. then, addresses by president obama and senator john corning. >> it is hard to get here. it is also hard to leave here. but all of us to leave in the senate always continues to >> search for fair will speeches and retiring members of the senate and house on the c-span video library. more than 160,000 hours on line and free. it is washington, your way. >> more than 2 million questions were submitted to russian prime minister vladimir putin his annual call-in program which
lasted over four hours. he responded to 90 questions covering the russian economy and public housing for families that lost their homes. here is a look at the first 90 minutes. >> good afternoon. i am maria sittel. we are live on air with the special program "a conversation with vladimir putin: continued." i would like to start by thanking all our viewers and people across russia for calling in and putting their questions to the prime minister. we have received a great many of them, and it's clear that russians want to hear first- hand about what the government is doing and about its plans.
today's conversation will look back over 2010. each of us will also do the same. some will never be able to forget the wildfires that raged throughout central russia or the unprecedented drought that struck the volga and urals federal districts. others will remember this year as the year their child was born, as the time when housing conditions improved thanks to maternity capital payments, when they bought a car under the car scrappage program or for many other reasons. as this year recedes into history, we remember the bitterness of defeat at the 2010 winter olympics in vancouver, the paralympic athletes who gave us so much to cheer about and our jubilation after russia won the bid to host the 2018 fifa world cup. >> that's why we have invited fire-fighters, rescue workers, academics and people who worked to rebuild burnt-out villages here today. doctors, students, industrial workers, farmers, representatives of public organizations and many others are also here with us. every single one of them will
have their own impressions of the outgoing year. i am ernest mackevicius. my colleagues, maria morgun, tatiana remezova and maria kitayeva are all working with maria sittel and me to bring this program to you. >> mobile television stations will be broadcasting live today, linking us live with various russian regions. we will have live broadcasts from astrakhan, novokuznetsk and cheboksary. we will also be in touch with our crews on location. >> so here at channel russia we are now going live to prime minister vladimir putin. [applause] >> and i'll be here, at the call centre throughout the program. these operators have already been working round the clock for over three days. you can continue to call in with your questions for the duration of broadcast. >> good afternoon, mr. putin.
you can send your questions by internet. you can do that at this address. you can type in the internet address. >> good afternoon everybody. >> this is the third time we've been forced to start this conversation with the word "crisis." yes we're starting to see some evidence of recovery. on the one hand, our industry, including the automotive sector, is on the rise. crude oil now costs almost $90 a barrel. the ruble is strong and stable. at the same time, the budget deficit remains, prices are rising, medicine and food are becoming more expensive, and utilities bills are increasing.
when will the fact that the ordinary people, not just the economy? >> so the suggestion is that we outgoing year? >> yes, that too. >> and we should certainly do it according to tradition. i have the very latest information here. talking with my colleagues yesterday evening, i mentioned that point, the statistics indicate it's the case and the gross domestic product, which indicates the scale of our entire economy. we have seen solid growth of 5%, 6% or even 7% on average over the past decade. this has been very good, stable
growth. but last year our economy shrank dramatically because of the global financial and economic 7.9%. this year we saw a positive trend. the economy grew by about 4%, or to be precise, by about 3.8%. this is less than china, but more than europe or the united states. this is the main, the positive. second, industrial production decreased considerably last year, by over 9%, by 9.8%. this year it rose by over 8%. this does not make up for last year's fall, but is moving in that direction, with industrial growth in the region of 8.6% or
8.5%. agriculture also saw a minor increase last year, by about 1.4%. but this year, as we are all well aware, because of the drought, we will see a fall of 9.9%. because the harvest failed. we harvested 108 million tons of grain in 2008, 98 million last year and 60.5 million tons this year and this is a considerable decrease. this is all down to the drought. however, and this is something we'll touch on later, we are trend of positive development. i am confident that we will succeed. on the negative side, nothing was invested in fixed assets last year, but this year such
investment has been growing. what effect has all this had on social issues? although real wages fell by 3.5% last year, people's real incomes grew a little, by slightly over 2%. where did that come from? it resulted from the decision we took regarding public sector wages in december 2008, when we increased the wage fund and also raised pensions by over 24%. people's real incomes increased by a little over 2%. but this year we saw real wage growth. they fell by 3.5% last year but grew by 4.2% this year. people's real incomes have grown accordingly, also because pensions were raised substantially, by 24% last
year, which is considerable growth, and by 44.9% this year. pensions have grown by nearly 45%, from 5,333 rubles to 7,800 rubles and higher. this may not be anything to write home about, it's no great windfall but still, it's something. we no longer have pensioners living in poverty on incomes are below the poverty line. a few words about the poverty line. the proportion of russians living below the poverty line has decreased from 13.1% last year to 12.5% this year. is that a lot? i would say that this is a positive change. i'd like to remind you that 29% of people in russia, or about
45 million, were living below the poverty line in the year 2000. how does this compare to europe? we have grown used to comparing everything to europe. it's more than in europe. but this is very strange approach to statistics, as the average data for europe is not available even to me, and the data for developed market economies differs from information about east european countries. the situation in russia is not all that different from that in, say, romania or latvia, and it may be even better, given the drastic consequences of the crisis in some east european countries. overall, we are finishing this year in a quite satisfactory manner. >> when will we see a return to the pre-crisis standard or quality of life? >> you mean when will the general public feel that the
situation is indeed improving? i think a positive trend is underway and that people should be able to feel that. you see, last year we had 6.2 million unemployed people, but this year we have cut unemployment by 1.2 million people by creating new or restoring old jobs. believe me, this is a very good indication, rather more than merely satisfactory. i hope that people have least sensed that changes are underway. as for the country as a whole, i started with the most important indicator, gdp, gross domestic product growth, as it gives a clear indication of the size of our economy, when the economy surges back to pre-crisis levels, the levels that existed before 2008, then we will be able to talk about people feeling this change in their salaries and in the reviving jobs market. a variety of experts hold that we are set to regain our pre- crisis gdp level in late 2012,
although some believe it will happen by late 2011. i think the truth lies somewhere in-between. we should be back at pre-crisis levels by mid 2012. >> so, it would be premature to expect to see the turning point in 2011? >> as i see it, we are already at that turning point. look, our gdp fell by 7.9%, but this year it has grown by 3.4%. so, overall, the trend can be described as a watershed and our task now is to keep it up. >> mr. putin, this year was a trying period not only for the economy, this year will be over in two weeks' time, but also because of the natural and man- made disasters. which would you class as the difficult? >> the wildfires, of course. i felt terribly sorry for people, for all those for whom
this really was a major catastrophe. people in those small villages, who lived as they always have, quite modestly. they lost even that little that they owned, and this really was a great trial both for those people and for the country, for all our regional and federal authorities. on the whole, we dealt with these problems. and of course it goes without saying that the drought was a heavy blow to the economy. >> our call centre is now taking the first live calls, and we have also been getting a lot of text messages. over now to maria sittel, who is in our call centre monitoring the calls and messages that are coming in. >> thank you, ernest. mr. putin, the country has been stirred by the recent unrest in moscow and st petersburg. thousands of people wreaked havoc, beat up passers-by and chanted nationalist slogans practically next to the kremlin
walls and the winter palace. we have received thousands of messages on this question. some say that the violence perpetrated by people from the north caucasus must be stopped, while others these are people of a wide range of different nationalities and ethnicities demand that a definite end be put to the actions of those nationalist groups. here is a message from erach makhmadilayev, who lives in orekhovo-zuyevo in moscow's suburbs. "as a result of this unrest, people of my nationality cannot leave their homes to go to work. the police are not doing anything. i am asking the authorities to intervene." and here is another message on the same issue, from andrei in krasnoyarsk. "do you think it was the government's leniency regarding people from the north caucasus that sparked this aggression in russians?" >> actually, we must cut short extremist actions on all sides, no matter where their origins lie. and we must not tar everyone from the north caucasus or indeed any other nationalities, in fact anyone at all, with the
same brush. but we must be ruthless in cracking down on all extremist actions. the general public, including the liberal section of society, has to understand this, and i think that everyone would agree that we need law and order and that it must be upheld. one of the government's functions is to guarantee the interests of the majority. this is the first point. second, we often, justifiably, criticize our law-enforcement agencies. it's no accident that we have major reform plans in this sphere. but while fighting negative elements in our law-enforcement agencies, including the police, we must not tar everyone with the same brush. we need to understand that these agencies are entrusted with a vital state function and we must not treat them like dirt; otherwise our liberal intelligentsia will have to shave off their beards, don
their helmets and go out onto the streets and squares to fight the radicals. i think this would be the absolute worst-case scenario, because everyone has their role to play, their job to do. for some this is operating tv cameras, for others it's holding the microphone, while others go out onto the streets to fight the radicals. however, the state must certainly fulfill its functions in strict compliance with the laws that are in force. >> mr. putin we have received another related question by sms. what about the russians living in the north caucasus? what will happen to them after the events in moscow? >> i think we should cast away all fears. people from any russian region, be it the caucasus, the far east, siberia or central russia, should feel at home in their country wherever they live.
regional authorities must play a key role here, and public organizations, too. what's important is that all russian people, all russian citizens of any ethnicity or religion identify themselves as part of a single nation. to make sure people feel at home everywhere in russia, we must all behave appropriately, so that a person from the caucasus feels safe walking around moscow, and russians of slavic ethnicity feel safe living in the north caucasus. people of all ages must have a shared awareness that they have one homeland. one of our main objectives here is to ensure that all people can live and feel safe and comfortable everywhere in the
country. i must reiterate what i have said on multiple occasions. russia has originated as a multi-ethnic and multi- confessional country. our religion is eastern christianity, or orthodox christianity. some theorists argue that it is in fact even closer to the principles of islam than to catholicism. i would not like to assess how close this statement is to reality, but it is certainly true that these religions have coexisted for centuries. they have developed a communication culture over these centuries not over the past few decades. we must look back to those centuries.
>> mr. putin, you must have seen our previews of today's q&a sessions, in which we showed the footage of yourself visiting the villages devastated by last summer's wildfires, in altai and central russia. you said new houses will be in place by winter. you have made good on your promise, and all the fire victims have moved into their new homes and have thrown housewarming parties. we would like to ask those people and our correspondent, dmitry kaistro, how things are going for them now. we link up to ivatino, in the vladimir region. hello dmitry, what does the village look like today, and who have you met there? >> good afternoon, mr. putin. ernest, maria, hello.
we are here in the village of ivatino, where 68 modern comfortable houses have been built literally from the ground up in almost no time. this is essentially a new village constructed for the local residents who lost their homes to the wildfires last summer. these new houses have all the modern amenities, such as household gas, satellite tv, the internet and so on. the local residents remember your visit with deep appreciation, mr. putin. you were here in autumn, when the construction was still underway, and it was due to the decisions you made that the people were able to move into their new homes before the cold weather and snow have set in. these people are preparing for the holiday season. they have met me today to tell you about the changes in their lives over this time and to ask you questions. who wants to go first? who has a question? go ahead. >> mr. putin, here is my question. it's been five months since the fires. will any amendments be made to
the forest code? will anything change? i mean, four years ago, woodlands were leased out to businesses and all forest keepers and wardens were made redundant. will they be reinstituted? the situation with the forests is completely out of control. >> we have indeed decided to make changes to the forest code and toughen the tenants' responsibility for the areas they lease. but that is not all. this is only part of a bigger problem, which mainly stems from the fact that fire services are very poorly equipped. we must also make amendments to legislation to expand safety areas in forests, especially
around villages and strategic facilities. the state duma is currently debating a bill on volunteer firefighting brigades, which existed in the soviet era. we are planning to reinstitute them. as for the fire services, we are planning to retool them. to provide them with aircraft, which currently belongs to the emergencies ministry as well as the defense ministry and the interior ministry, and with other fire-fighting equipment. the government plans to allocate 43 billion rubles to purchase the equipment over the next few years. new aircraft will be acquired,
eight be-200 jets as far as i know. all that, taken together, will hopefully enable us to deal more confidently and efficiently with challenges on this scale. >> dmitry, let's have another question from ivatino. please go ahead. >> does anyone have another question? >> i'm a paramedic and work closely with the population. elderly women say that where they used to live their utilities bills were not as high as they are now. are any changes in utilities bills planned for next year? will they increase or stay the same? >> ms kulakova, my understanding is that those communities used to have only
low-capacity power-transmission lines. they are now connected to the gas system, benefit from decent power supply, water and sewage systems, as well as tv networks boasting over 100 channels. virtually every single house has broadband internet access. the upkeep and maintenance of all this infrastructure, of course, requires additional resources. at the same time, and i think this is something you can confirm, i would like to note that the homes were all built using new technology. they are energy-saving in the direct sense of the word, which helps keep the cost of electricity and heating down. this is the first point. second, most importantly, this concerns not only rebuilt
communities but the entire country's utilities infrastructure. naturally, people are not satisfied with what is happening here, and i'm sure we will return to this issue during our discussion today. in 2008, utilities prices rose by about 20%. despite an uptick in early 2010, we succeeded in restraining the price rise to about 15% nationwide. next year, we do not expect these prices to rise by anything over 13%. i repeat this is the projected nationwide average. and if you economize, you can make savings. of course you now benefit from the added convenience and comfort provided by this new infrastructure, and that has to be paid for. true, i don't know, it's one thing to use coal and firewood, and natural gas is something else. i'm not convinced that gas is always more expensive. for example it's much cheaper
than diesel fuel. people in areas which previously had diesel-fuel boilers will be able to spend less. >> mr. putin, let's get some thoughts from our studio audience on this. tatiana remezova, please go ahead. >> thank you, ernest. there are people from the tambov region here in this studio. that region was also hit by this summer's wildfires. it would be interesting to get a reaction from people there to our report from ivatino. >> good afternoon, mr. putin. russia was hit by an abnormal heat wave this summer. forests and villages burnt. surely, it is very good that you built homes for wildfire survivors so quickly and that you personally supervised housing construction on all these sites. but what can we do about those "dying" villages which lack adequate living and working
conditions? >> and running on from that, mr. putin, can we add the following "awkward" question which really is on everyone's mind? it was sent in by lyudmila mikheyeva from the kemerovo region. >> as if we haven't already had some "awkward" questions. >> yes. don't you think that villages all over russia will burst into flames next summer, just to get the government to address their problems? >> let's start with the first part of this question. of course, we still face a lot of problems related to housing sector development. we have a lot of dilapidated housing and people in numerous barracks need to be resettled. the state has a lot to do in this respect. as for what we did to help people who lost their homes in the fire, our actions were a prompt and highly targeted response to a massive problem, the disaster that these people experienced.
i repeat, this was a highly targeted reaction. so what am i getting at? the houses that were burnt down, and those being restored housing were and still are considered private property. how are similar issues tackled elsewhere in the world? i would like to stress that, as a rule, virtually all this property is insured, and people are given compensation following accidents, after their homes burn down. unfortunately, this concept is not widespread in russia due to our relatively low income levels and underdeveloped insurance system. of course we can not abandon people in their time of need. but we are simply unable to rebuild and replace all homes nationwide at federal expense,
even if we wanted to. if we were to do that, we would have to mothball all our other projects, including raising the pension, healthcare reform, in addition to cutting defense spending several times over. so that is simply not workable. so, realistically, what can we do? first, we can continue to roll out our housing programs for those social strata directly covered by federal commitments, including the resettlement of people from the far north, providing housing for combat veterans, military personnel, chernobyl clean-up workers and so on. i would like to say that there is a great deal of work for the construction sector to do. moreover, we supported the housing sector with the help of state contracts in 2009, which was a rather difficult and problem-ridden year. true, the volume of housing commissioned declined, but only slightly. last year, we commissioned about 45 million-plus square meters of housing.
a total of 43 million square meters were commissioned in 2010. although the sector has experienced a slight slump, overall construction volumes have been conserved. but these problems require systemic and drastic solutions. first, we need to raise incomes. this is the most important thing. second, the cost of buying a house must be brought down. the construction materials industry and the entire construction sector has to expand. financial services such as for example mortgage costs have to come down. there are also some other aspects. if we tackle this objective in a systemic way, then we will undoubtedly succeed. honestly, i don't doubt this because the russian housing development foundation will
continue to rehouse tenants from dilapidated housing. this is the government's direct responsibility. >> and what about the second part of the question suggesting that houses could just burst into flames. >> that second part actually implies that some people might set their homes alight simply in order to claim this compensation. >> this is not a baseless fear. >> well, i am not sure if this is fully justified. let me put it this way. first, the compensation is quite tangible. what have we done? the state built houses for free. in fact, we paid 200,000 rubles per family member in compensation for lost movable property. we helped people to buy furniture at a 30-50% discount. united russia provided nearly every home of the fire victims with household appliances free of charge.
and so on. all this is disaster relief. >> in other words, it was a blessing in disguise? >> no, let me finish. it is our response to a natural disaster. but if it is a domestic fire, which is usually caused by humans, the person responsible must be identified. first of all, this is not a natural phenomenon, not the result of a natural disaster, and the scale of the consequences is smaller than the consequences of a natural disaster. there will still be compensation, but it will be of a different order. >> and it's easy to tell the difference. >> yes, of course. there was a recent incident in dagestan, that's in the south, it was a clear case of careless handling of fire. some people set fire to a landfill. that is not a natural phenomenon, not a natural
disaster. that's my first point. second, if somebody does it deliberately as the case may be this is a criminal offense called fraud, and it carries a six-year sentence or, under certain aggravating circumstances, up to ten years. this is also easy to determine. forensics experts can establish if it was arson. so i hope we will be spared such incidents. >> and hopefully, the people who were planning to do it will take heed of what you've just said. >> people are presumed innocent, not presumed guilty, and i don't know if anyone was actually planning to do this. >> thank you, mr. putin. thank you, dmitry. and thank you, ivatino. another topic that has been raised here is the housing and utilities sector. there are a great number of questions about utilities, what with the confusion surrounding the managing companies and the homeowners associations. but what worries people most of
all is that utility rates are growing with each year, while the quality of service remains the same as it was in soviet times. "doesn't this country have any able managers who can put the utilities sector in order?" writes zoya martemyanova from pervouralsk. and this from another letter. "my husband and i are disabled. why have they abolished discounts on utilities?" this is from lyudmila yevdokimova, a pensioner who lives in perm. in other words, the utility rates are growing, the supply lines are worn out, discounts have abolished and embezzlement is rampant. what should be done about this situation? >> this is a common refrain, we talk about it all the time. and of course the cause is systematic, chronic underfunding of the housing and utilities sector. what happens in practice? the local authorities underfinance this sector, do not raise the rates as scheduled because they want to appear all white and furry before their local community,
city or village. they fail to do it on time and put themselves out on a limb. eventually they have to raise the rates in one fell swoop, as happened early last year. we have local utilities companies who have developed a very cozy relationship. another key problem is that this market is monopolized. it must be acknowledged that many municipalities have pampered local utilities, which charge monopolistic prices for their services without improving the quality of services. is demonopolizing the utilities market. this should be closely watched
by local deputies who should press for the adoption of anti- monopoly regulations in the regional and municipal markets. that is a very important issue. without this we will never turn the situation around. of course, before people entrust their houses to homeowners associations, the municipal and regional authorities should to everything to make sure that the housing they are handing over is in proper condition. it is not right to hand over dilapidated buildings in the hope that the people will pay through their noses to get their house repaired. that is inadmissible and wrong. and yet this is what they try pull off in some places. end of discount rates? >> lyudmila yevdokimova from perm.
>> i would like to tell lyudmila yevdokimova from perm and other people who are entitled to discounts that no one has abolished the discount rates. the situation in perm regarding that issue needs to be looked into. these categories of citizens are entitled to a 50% discount on utility rates, as before. the federal budget allocates considerable sums of money 100 billion rubles for these purposes every year, including this year, and transfers them to the regions, and then the regions are supposed to pass along the discount. i am aware that in some regions they have monetized benefits, as it's called. first of all, this increases government spending.
you see, if a person pays 50%, and if, for example, he uses firewood to heat his house, he pays modest sums for utility services. but the regional average is much higher. in the event of monetization, it would seem that a person should be paid more, but if they do adopt this scheme, the authorities should first pay the money, put it in the person's account and then have him pay the utility rates and not the other way around. first make him pay and then pay out the benefits, and not always the full amount. this practice cannot be tolerated. we will look into the situation in perm. is to blame. >> the managing company has a manager. so we should see who manages this managing company and how. >> we have some follow-up questions from our information centre. maria sittel, please go ahead. >> yes, ernest, we have a great deal of questions about housing and utilities. very relevant questions at the onset of winter. it is a sore topic, and there
seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. what people need is not pieces of paper or special laws. they need normal sewage, central heating nothing special. people say the law does not work. the managing companies neglect their duties. imagine how cynical a person must be to fraudulently set up a managing company in order to rip off ordinary people. there are many questions like this. people are asking how much longer they have to endure it and when some real change will happen in the housing and utilities sector. >> i just addressed this issue. i'm not sure if i can add anything new. peter i, while he was with the troops during the northern war, sent a design for his personal
toilet, essentially a sewer system. he personally gave thought to such matters, and he was the emperor. the deputies of local and regional assemblies should not think it beneath them to attend to these matters and to pay more attention to them. it is not a simple problem. difficult problems. but with effort it can be solved. >> let me remind you that there are many decent and committed people gathered in this studio. let's give them a chance to ask vladimir putin a question. over to you, maria. >> yes, thank you, ernest. there are many members of student volunteer teams here. they are even wearing their uniforms to attract our attention. we've noticed you.
please, introduce yourself and ask your question. >> good afternoon. my name is yevgeny babakirov and i am from rostov state brigades. region i am greatly concerned about the terrible crimes at kushchevskaya, which is not far from us, and the events in gus- happened there. there is currently a major reform under way to transform the militia into the police. thank you. >> the point of the reform is not to change the name. it concerns deeper changes, which we want to take place in the structure of interior work following a broad public discussion and consideration of the draft law in the state duma. of course, it is too soon to say whether the changes will happen or not. but that is the president's intention and not just to alter the sign. incidentally, you mentioned
that the reform requires a huge amount of money, but that is not true. no money has been spent yet. but funding will be required, above all, to improve the living standards of police officers. as regards the terrible events in kushchevskaya and gus- khrustalny, it revealed a problem with all law- enforcement agencies, not just the police. is the police alone responsible there? what about the prosecutors? what about the federal security service?
what about the federal drug control service? and what about the courts that were supposed to pass rulings? i think the entire law enforcement system has failed. where were the regional authorities? didn't they see anything? it is therefore an important signal. it is another signal for society to wake up and for authorities at all levels, including federal, to wake up, too, and see what is going on in the regions. there was a time when i received a lot of criticism for changing the procedure for electing governors in the russian the motives for this change was to keep criminal elements out of local governments.
unfortunately, civil society is not yet effective enough in our country, and with so-called "direct elections", nearly every candidate had a criminal looming behind his back, who tried to use his "unaccounted- for" money to influence the election aha campaign and its outcome and did it with a degree of success. now when the president proposes candidates for governors, and local deputies must vote for or against, this somehow hedges society against criminal if regional level of administration. unfortunately, the situation in municipalities is not the same. we have direct elections of
municipal administrators and criminals continue to have a say there. i have some ideas about ways to address this, without abolishing elections, of course. they should not be abolished at the municipal level. what we need to do is to monitor these processes more closely, both at the federal and regional levels. and we must certainly strengthen the law enforcement system. now about gus-khrustalny. when i was visiting the vladimir region, two women asked to see me i think they were from gus-khrustalny. both of them had lost their sons there. in fact, that started the ball rolling on the investigation of the criminal activities in the town. on my request, the prosecutor- general's office and other law enforcement agencies have now got down to business in earnest
and i hope criminals will face trial and be brought to justice. >> they have also detained the mayor of engels. >> yes, i know. >> but, mr. putin, it appears these people were just lucky to have met you so that you were able to support them. but in other places, who can people turn to? >> as i said, it is society as a whole the regional authorities, federal and public organizations that should monitor the situation very closely. and every one of us, every citizen, when going to a polling station, especially when electing local administrators, should give their vote to a candidate for his or her for personal and leadership qualities, and not on the basis of empty pledges. as a rule, people who live in small towns and villages know>> they are just afraid to say so. >> yes, perhaps some of them are afraid to talk.
but when they vote for those candidates, they should remember that the ballot is secret. and they should not trust the promises made by such shady characters. every one of us should be aware of the consequences of what we authorities of responsibility. >> we have questions from the call centre. i give the floor to maria sittel. >> the processing information centre is very busy now, with its operators taking hundreds of calls every second.
let me give you a few figures. as of 12.30 p.m., we have received 1,744,000 calls, text messages and emails. any one moment, 3,776 people are trying to reach us by telephone. st petersburg, bashkortostan, are active now, while before we went on the air moscow, the krasnodar territory and the rostov region were traditional leaders. mr. putin, very many people have sent telegrams, not trusting the telephone or the internet, to be sure of getting on the air. here is yelena bacheva writing from perm. she says that the outgoing year was the year of the teacher and speaks of problems in education. "in the year of the teacher it should be possible to destroy the potyomkin villages raised by bureaucrats. children are crying out from reforms. the state that saves on schools has no future." a real cry from the heart. and another question about education. "how long will teachers have such low wages? a full-time primary school
teacher is paid 13,000 rubles a month. the taxes, rent and other expenses leave 7,000. this is below the subsistence level in the krasnoyarsk territory," writes alexander belov. >> this is an acute problem, it is true. we have been focusing on demographic and healthcare issues for several years now. we also have the education national project. i cannot but agree that the income level of teachers is low. on the average, it is about 25% to 30% below the level in the economy. that is bad. so what solutions are there? there are three ways to address the problem. the first and the simplest and
it should be done is just to raise the incomes of teachers, raise their pay. but that is not enough. we need to restructure the network. the number of school students has been falling but the network remains large. i know what i am saying. i am sure people will say. "they are going to start closing schools again." there is no program for school closures, and there will never be one, but the number of schools should correspond to the number of pupils. if this is to be done, it should be done calmly, keeping the teachers, keeping the personnel, helping people to retrain, etc. there are many ways of tackling that problem. there will be no sudden steps
and nothing will be done to harm the teachers. and finally, the next plan is to move to a different format of remuneration. we have discussed this on many occasions. we propose estimating the total sum each school needs and transferring that amount directly to the school. the school policymakers, including parents and the community, and the headmaster, will then take decisions on optimizing their expenses, such as cutting heating and electricity costs, construction and repairs costs, and non teaching staff costs, to raise teachers' incomes. this does not mean firing all
the caretakers, not carrying out any repairs, not planning any redecorations, or switching off the heating and electricity. what i mean is that everything should be done efficiently. try not to use more heat and electricity than the building actually needs. there are a lot of ways of making these savings without disrupting the teaching process and ensuring that the environment continues to be comfortable. some regions are already doing this, and teachers there are on wages that are at or above the local average. these regions are tyumen and kaliningrad, and there are ten more. so this practice is already in place. in conclusion, let me reiterate
my initial statement teachers' salaries simply have to be raised. i know these policies are adopted at regional and municipal levels. the federal government is also providing support for these policies, and will continue to do so i am referring here to the federal subsidies issued to the regions. >> maria, have we had any other questions from our viewers, by phone, text or email? >> there certainly are. we have taken a lot of questions here. once again, our direct line is 8-800-200-40-40. call us toll free from your home or mobile phone. let us not test the patience of our next caller any longer. i am being told this caller is from irkutsk. >> good afternoon, mr. putin. i have a very simple question. do you think it fair that mikhail khodorkovsky is still in prison? i don't really expect you to answer. i know you prefer talking to retired elderly women bursting
with gratitude or answering questions about your favorite dogs. thank you. >> i have two dogs. i don't know which of them you have in mind. as for what you said about those grateful elderly women, i just so happen to believe that every single one of us has a duty to the older generation. we have not yet been able to give them all they need and deserve, but we are trying hard and making some headway, however a great deal still remains to be done. as for khodorkovsky, i have expressed my opinion on this on many occasions. but if you want me to repeat myself again now, i will. it is my conviction that "a thief should be in jail" [a quotation from a famous soviet film starring vladimir
vysotsky]. khodorkovsky has been convicted, by court, for embezzlement, pretty major embezzlement. we're talking about tax evasion and fraud involving billions of rubles. then, very importantly, there was also the matter of his personal tax evasion. but the new embezzlement charges he now faces run to sums of 900 billion rubles in one case and 800 billion rubles in another. if we look at other countries' legal practices, in the united states bernard madoff got 150 years behind bars for a similar fraud scheme involving similar sums of money. russia by comparison, i believe, seems a lot more liberal. anyway, we must start from the fact that khodorkovsky's guilt
has been proved in court. in addition , as you are probably well aware, and now i am not talking about khodorkovsky directly, but i note that the yukos security chief is currently serving time for murder. the mayor of nefteyugansk, vladimir petukhov, got in their way and so they killed him. one woman in moscow refused to hand over her small property, and they killed her, too. and then killed the assassin they hired to carry out those killings. all they found was his brains, splattered all over his garage. do you think the security chief decided to carry out these crimes all by himself? so we have the court system, ours is, by the way, one of the most humane in the world, and
this is their bread and butter. i start by accepting the court ruling. >> mr. putin, while we were going through the questions in preparation for this session, we noticed an increase in the number of requests for you to visit and personally deal with problems on the spot. maybe they were inspired by your drive along the chita- khabarovsk highway in your yellow lada-kalina. during that trip you visited places that no big boss has ever visited, let alone one of the country's top officials. therefore, we could not help but return to the town of aksyonovo- zilovskoye where you met with local residents and discussed local problems and prospects. our reporter pavel zarubin is currently in aksyonovo- zilovskoye, and we can go live to him now. pavel, good afternoon, or rather good evening, judging from what we can see on the screen!
>> hello moscow! i'm here live in the town of aksyonovo-zilovskoye on the trans-siberian highway. over the last few days temperatures at night have dropped to - 48 c here so we're coming to you from inside the railway station, where it's warmer. it is nearly seven in the evening here, the working day is over, so a lot of people have come down here. our camera crew has been in the town since monday. we have had numerous opportunities for detailed conversations with local residents. the day when the prime minister stopped by last summer in his bright yellow kalina on the way from khabarovsk to chita, has certainly been one of the highest profile events they have had for years. that visit in fact started a local program to rehouse people out of dilapidated and dangerous old buildings to new ones, and
other important improvements. however, we face other problems here, and some of them are quite pressing. that is probably what these people want to discuss with you today. let's get started. who wants to go first? you've talked rather animatedly about all these problems recently would you like to start? >> my name is natalia bultinova, i'm a director of a school. we received expensive equipment after your visit, and we are very grateful to you for this. . .
>> we had four senators absent. really just 2/3 of the senators voting. it's one the best days. not just because i was committed to the cause because at a time when the people of our country are just so justifyably cynical about the partisan politics that revails here in washington and stops us from getting anything done. we've come together and proven across party lines that you can get something done. there were eight republicans who voted four repeoples. this -- four repeals. this would not have happened unless for the support of our senators and susan collins. it was the right thing to do
for our country. i just stress again that perhaps as we enter the holidays now, it's also the best thing we could do to say to the american people that we're still able to come together in a bipartisan way to right a wrong that's in the best interest of our country. senator collins? >> thank you. let me thank senator lieberman for his extraordinary leadership. he has been steadfast in his determination to repeal this unjust law. and without his persistence we would not be standing here today. i also want to thank senator udall and all of those who have worked so hard. but i particularly want to thank my republican colleagues who voted in paper of repealing
"don't ask, don't tell." it was a difficult vote for many of them, but in the end, they conclude as i have concluded that we should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing to put on the uniform of this country, fight for us in war zones such as afghanistan and iraq and put freedom on the line for us. so i want to thank all of the gay men and women that are fighting for us today in afghanistan and in iraq. we honor your service and now we can do so openly. this is indeed a historic day and i am just delighted with the strong bipartisan vote.
>> thanks, susan. >> senator mark udall has been a stalwart and steadfast partner in this. >> thank you, senator lieberman, thank you, senator collins. i'm flanked by two enormously courageous leader. i play a small role in this very important success today. we just were talking about a week -- not much more than a week ago and senator collins anderman came up with a way forward which is to put a stand-alone bill after the house considered the same bill. i know we feel very, very grateful of the leadership of patrick murphy on particular on the house side, leader hoyer. i would echo what senator collins said, encouraged votes. i want to mention the
leadership that secretary gates has brought to this important question as well as admiral mull lynn. i believe admiral mull lynns' words will go down in history as ging to the core of this matter, which is if a young man orm woman, not quite so young want to serve our country, they should haven't to live a lie in order to act as a patriot would act. i know we all three are low to what happened. we'll let the historians determine the impact of this, but this is a very, very important day for those american who is want to defend our freedoms and serve us. open for questions if you have any. >> openly gay people will now be getting medals and awards and held up as heroes. there is a broader social debate in terms of what gay people should occupy in society
and the rights they should have. what impact do you think this shall have? >> in the survey that the pentagon did, i was very surprised that only 15% surveyed said they would actually reveal their sexual orientation because it's a private matter. more openly gay service people will be honored for their service as they should be. and i think in that sense, two things, one is that, we're going to be true to what america is supposed to be about. we're supposed to be about not who you are but how you did your job. gay and lesbians in the military will not be seen as gays and lesbians, they will be seen as what they are, american soldiers efment when they do ex-sempplare service in our country, they will be seen as heroes who incidentally happen to be gay or less byian.
so to me it is a step forward to a larger societal acceptance. this legislative action to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" i think is a reflection of the changing of values, if you will, of our society, the acceptance of people just based on who they -- how they do their job, not on who they are. i think one of the great -- this is a civil rights piece of legislation in my opinion. and what we're saying here is that you -- in america regardless of your race or religion or nationality or gender or sexual orientation, you know if you play by the rules there's no limit to where you can go. society is ahead of us in this regard. i kept hearing this over and
over from our colleagues and from people who would call me about this. one of the changes that's occurred as our society has become or accepting of gay and lesbian americans is that they of course have felt more comfortable and encouraged to indicate what their sexual orientation was both in a larger public context but particularly among family and friends. and so we're at a point where there are a lot of family, a lot of people in america now who either have a gay or less byian member of their family or a close friend. and so when this legislation comes up or legislation like it, it's not about them, it's about us, which is the way it ought to be because after all, we're all americans. so i think this is a very significant day. senator christian gillenbrand was part of this night. she refused to give up and here
we are having succeeded. please. >> well, i can say that this is real kwlay the american people asked us to do. the last election was very much about a statement about the american public saying that they want their public servants to come together to get the people's business done. i can think of no more important bill than speaks to our readiness. i want to thank susan collins who has been a visionary from the beginning. i can remember when we had a hearing on "don't ask, don't tell" and it was susan collins who asked the right questions of the right people to make a record of why this policy was so injust, why this policy under mine military readiness. if removed would reduce nothing to reduce cohesion. i want to thank my colleagues for an extraordinary leadership
on such an important issue and one that true sli a civil rights issue. this isal about equal rights. if you want to give your life to this country, you may do so regardless of who you love. this is one of the most fundamental piece of legislation this country could make. i want to thank everyone else in the senate who voted for this piece of legislation. this is exactly what the american people want out of this congress. >> what's your message to the 31 blouns voted against it? do you feel that they'll be on the wrong side of history? >> it takes time for people to change long-held beliefs. i believe that if we had this vote five years ago, i would
not have passed. 17 years ago it was a democratic president who signed into law "don't ask, don't tell." so i think our society is changing. and that it's important to remember who was in charge when this policy was enacted 17 years ago. strategically at what point did you see a clear turn where you knew this was going to happen? and did you have any thoughts of taking the provision out of the defense bill earlier? >>, no there certainly was some thought by people who feared that this would stop it from being passed. once we couldn't get to 60 votes on defense authorization bill, that was just last thursday because of the process
that was being followed. we talked and we decided, you know, we've got 60 or more votes for repeal of don't ask don't tell. we've got to find vehicle to be able to have the roll called so that the 60 or more votes can be registered in favor of repeal. and that wheens we decided right away to put in a stand-alone bill. things happened very quickly then. the house was immediately responsive. got together with pat murphy in a matter of days we had more than 50 co-sponsors in the snaths and our republican colleagues, senator collins, senator murkowski and senator snow all said as this came closer that they were committed on the principle and they were not going to allow any procedural questions to stop them from voting for it. and then senator reid he really
had the 60-plus votes he argued very strenuously to take this up and not wait until it. he got upset -- some people who are qu against "don't ask, don't tell requests were saying if you move it quickly maybe you're not going to get the votes. so all that came together in a remarkable show of bipartisan 1u7 port. -- support. >> four republicans said they will support it even next week. had you been lobbying the four? or are you surprised that maybe more didn't join on? >> i had been talking to a number of my colleagues. i knew that senator bona vitch was going to be with us. he made clear that once there was an opportunity for a stand-alone bill that he would support it. that didn't surprise me because he's been a real leader on
human capital issues in our commu committee and wants to make sure that we're tapping the talents of everyone. in addition i had conversations with senator enson. i knew that he was taking a hard look at the issue, that he was reading the report that he feels studying hard. i talked to a number of colleagues as well. i was confident going into the vote today that we would have six to seven votes. i did not expect eight. but i was delighted to see that we got eight. >> who was it that you didn't expect? >> i was delighted but surprised from the vote from senator byrd. that was a gutsy vote. and i was delight. but he was not someone that i had thought to lobby on the issue.
>> you didn't mean to leave us out. senator kurt, said he couldn't vote for cloture because he didn't like the process. but he was very encouraging about voting for repeal on a stand-alone bill. and then he told us that he would. >> that is really important. his vote was a key vote and it was one that we knew going into the vote that we had today. >> what day did he tell you? >> senator curk, i -- senator kirk, i will tell you definitively. he was pretty encouraging that if it came up on stand-alone he was likely to be favorable. >> i had a i conversation with him as well last thursday. i think we joined -- we had conversation. and he like many of us was upset at the tactics the majority leader had used last week but he indicated that he was very open to voting for a
stand-alone bill. >> senator collins could you take us through the timeline that you would expect the imply mentation of the bill? >> it's important to understand that the bill includes discretion for the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chief of staff and the president to implement this bill once they certify that there would not be an adverse impact on military readiness. and what they have told us is that they need to under take a training and education session. the report, the comprehensive report and survey done by the pentagon lays out an implementation plan as well. and i am certain that the secretary will begin that implementation plan immediately. but it is going to take some
time. it's not going to happen over night. one of the compelling reasons for congress to act was the secretaries arguments that the courts were likely to overturn "don't ask, don't tell." and that would cause an immediate implementation that might be very difficult for the pentagon to carry out successfully. so because we did the right thing today, we'll have an implementation that will be gradual but effective. and i'm sure it will start right away but it will take some time. >> any idea? >> i will yield to my colleagues on that. but from the conversation i had, it will be months not years. >> that's right. and the important thing to say is that there is no time limit in the legislation by which the repeal has to be implemented and secretary gate was
questioned about this a lot at the armed services committee and he said and admiral mullin said they wouldn't begin to implement "don't ask, don't tell" until the military was ready for it. they want to make sure everything is in order. so i agree with susan. it's going be months not years. >> i think that's why you had 65 votes. the length of time isn't what's important. what's important is if there's a process in place to do this right in a way to implement the fleeds oaf -- the needs of this policy. >> the military will take their to time to figure out how to apply all the different changes that has to be made to accommodate this change in policy. but the reason why this vote is so significant is that after today no one can be outed rningts no one can be dismissed, no wlun be asked to stop their service because of their sexual orientation. >> i just want to add one
thing, if anyone wants to check the record. senator webb was concerned about imply mentation and as recently as yesterday, he wrote a letter to secretary gates asking his thoughts on whether it would phase in repeal of imply mentation? and he included his letter and the secretaries in the record today. it comforted him. he was a vote. >> what is the extent of the 911 health bill? will you get closure on that? >> we have the votes we need. we've had indications from several republicans that they very much want to vote for this bill. they would like to vote for a stand-alone bill. there's general agreement on a new pay for that we're going to offer. the hope is to get to the bill as soon as this bill is completed. >> what's it for? >> combined with a visa fee that was voted on in the past that would just be continued at the length of time. >> senator lieberman there's a
question for you on the actual legislation. >> can you say how involved was the president on getting the vote for you? and also are you sure -- are you positive at this point that no legal action can intervene, i mean nothing can change the course of this? >> let me take the second one first. obviously, we had access to the courts. we're a litigation-oriented society but you never know. i think this is a very strongly based piece of legislation based in law. i would find it hard to mount to successfully go challenge for this. so i think we're on the road to repeal this discriminatory legislation. the president east support was very important here. senator obama after all is the first commander in chief to very clearly say that he was for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." >> during this legislative effort, he and his staff was
he brought an improvement to the communication. >> what about civilian casualty. what is the u.k. policy? there is concern about the differences between the u.k. and u.s. policies and. can you address that? clucks high and not aware of difficulties caused between our countries. if there is any evidence of
have to be a claim for would they make an immediate payment >> that is what a therefore. that is the argument. it is to do exactly that. we want to make sure there is any reimbursement for any damage caused. we want to make sure that the afghan local snow this. we go out of our way to offer swift abilities for people to be reimbursed.
we are doing a great deal. we need to recognize that there is a limit as to how much can be absorbed. the show also look at the extent to which we have made quite a bit of improvement. in 2002, 9% of the population in afghanistan was covered with basic health care. we have had an astonishing amount of improvement.
the money and the direction in which the aid is predicted for -- what other imbalances on the ground do you see? >> my understanding is that they do have a system. they know the purposes for which the money can be spent. the money goes to the reconstruction trust fund. >> some of this is spent at the district level. the products themselves are local projects.
meetings. we were looking at who was going to contribute to this mission. the argument has moved from an do we have the numbers and the capability. countries like canada have decided to make contributions. it is something that other countries have followed. we need to focus on these capabilities. they need to have the ability to follow through on security
i was told locals have been complaining that police often brought from a different part of the country. they had problems believing that some were locally trained. people were recognizing improvements. but we have to have police training. there are different types of police training which is also important. some were impressed with the english skills that the students were exhibiting.
>> what about the training regarding to afghan law the? some are unaware of the law and some are unable to apply its. a large number of women in afghanistan -- a prosecutor girls from -- for running away from violence. are we including the training that we provide a month with understanding of afghan law to protect women? >> yes. the training we provide includes
>> i do not know the specifics. we are painting liberally. he will have the detailed knowledge of the outputs and general rodriguez will be observing from a certain perspective. i do not think it sounds like a tremendous dispute. >> they are opposing each other. >> 12% of police can work unsupervised. another said he supported that
how does that affect the partners? >> here is a transition that the criteria for transitioning will be agreed by the afghan government. a great deal of discussion about this and there has to be a balance struck that any transition needs to be reversible. we have to think about the number of serious of transition. it provides a key target for the taliban. we have to think about the areas of transition.
>> you talk about the issue now being resolved. >> five was very concerned that we stick to one level only. it would provide us with a number of difficulties. it has been a major step forward. >> the uk troops host a withdrawal and it might be difficult to enter the question. any thought given to the number of filling that role for that time frame?
will you take part in that? in terms of support, i think it would be unlikely. we will have to look at the years ahead in terms of the conditions on the ground. we want to give support. it is difficult for the afghans to do everything themselves. what we give to the afghans is dependent upon what they need. regarding helicopters, we do not yet know. we will have to look at that.
>> some said we did not have enough u.k. forces in 2006. in your opinion, what was the impact of the failure to deploy certain troops and the armed forces have the correct number? >> i was concerned for a long time that the ratio we were looking after was incorrect. i think it was held by certain forces as well as some of the things of americans with regards
engagement is free -- robust. i would apply the statement to airplanes and whether that looks back, i do not think it applies now to our rules of engagement. that is more of a policy question and the individual cases considered. there have been changes in policy. we will ask the ministry defense for clarification.
we will try to interpret those to ensure operations. we try to ensure the policy and legal framework. that is why they may appeal against the ruling of the smith case. you cannot predict the outcome of that particular case. commanders are increasingly concerned about this which led to an ever increasing situation.
i had to ask whether elements that needed to be addressed. they met some soldiers who fought that it was too tight. perhaps the interpretation was wrong. they felt they had to care too much on one side. we are trying to clarification. >> they have to look at it during the cost of finished -- cause of the next year.
united states. we should have no part in playing their game. they want to put particular ideas into the public minds of people. i think it is regretful that some have played along. i will not. >> what do you think is the key lesson that we learned from what happened in 2006? >> he should have a clear plan if you are going to undertake any military activity.
if you are to set the right conditions, they have to closely to find the troops. they have to give the people confidence that they will stay there. a lot of integrated planning action occurs as a result. they have to understand the function in develop intelligence structure so we can understand the context of where we are. we have to have enough to do it.
way in developing their tactics. it remains a difficult place for the united states. it is very similar to what we do on the ground. >> those reports are largely media reports. they are facilitated by us and the american forces. >> they have to understand the local terrain. it is a very tactical activity
which can be observed from different perspectives. >> there are certain difficulties because of the centrality it presents one of the biggest challenges that we face. look at how well british forces did and what they achieved. the sacrifices were very high. the number was twice as big as this time last year.